My sleep patterns are so messed up lately. Timezone and shift changes haven't allowed me to get into a routine of any kind. I ended up grabbing one of those sleep applications you can get for your phone that measures your movement during the night and infers the type of the sleep you are having. Even now with a week's worth of data I'm not sure what to do with it. I clearly have a problem around 3:30AM and the stats back that up, but what can I actually do about it?

It did mean I was up early as per usual for a 7:30 tee time at Long Vien golf club. They have only recently soft-opened this course for play and while the course is mostly done there rest of the buildings, including the biggest clubhouse I have ever seen, are still under construction. I was gobsmacked by the amount of money that a Vietnamese consortium have put into this place. The amount of dirt they have moved around to create this course is almost beyond belief. Dr. Mackenzie's head would explode to look at it. It is a very modern resort style course with all that entails. Lush. Lots of push-up greens. Long from the back tees. Too much water in play. 18 is a death march. I would prefer to see more short grass around greens instead of that brillo pad, club-grabbing couch grass crap. The 3rd is a dreadful piece of ego driven architecture that forces its' target demographic to dunk a ball and then head to the drop zone. The greens are large, undulating and too severe and should probably be redone. The walk from the 9th green to the 10th tee is nearly 1km. And I'm sure this laundry list of things I don't like might make you think I hated it - but I absolutely did not. 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 14 and 15  are all pretty good holes. The multiple halfway houses around each 9 are better than waiting for a drinks cart to come around. I really wonder what the clubhouse will be like when it is finished, but every golf facility stands on the quality of the course and this one has a lot to like about it. I'm looking forward to playing again next week.

Scooted home for a quick shower then over the bridge to Thailand and Udon Thani. Xay was my driver again and he is just a marvel at negotiating the ins and outs of the immigration checkpoints. I doubt a car with diplomat plates could have done it faster on a busy Saturday afternoon. Well played, Xay.

I hit up the night market with the intention of finding a fake watch but there must have been a crackdown or something recently as there weren't many around. Certainly much less than last time I visited, so I didn't find anything I wanted. Ate some street food and didn't die. Found a bar and sat out watching the world go by. Not the worst thing to do.

Breakfast at the hotel for the usual buffet caper. My hotel management friend Andi would probably be able to tell them a better way to lay things out as it is a bit of a hodge-podge, but the food was fine. I was struck by one thing that morning as I looked around the room. I was the only falang in the room that wasn't sitting at a table with a family that consisted of himself, a thai wife/girlfriend and a few kids. I felt a bit left out sitting alone.

I did some mundane shopping at Central Plaza. I miscounted my underwear when packing so had to resolve that. The amount of water in play suggested I needed a few more golf balls. A 3.5mm cable to connect to the stereo in Xay's car so I could play my music on the return trip instead of incomprehensible, minor key Thai/Lao music. I finally found the Katy Perry perfume that Maddy had been asking for. Who is a good Dad? This guy.

I stopped at Princess Coffee to recharge a bit. I couldn't find a king or queen coffee so that seemed like the best option. The crockery for an espresso is a work of art and I ended up lingering much longer than my coffee as I spoke with the owner for a while. Making friends with someone you met 2 minutes ago is one of those cool things you do while travelling. Back at home I probably put any new person through some sort of audition process before deciding I like them or not and then deciding on where I will compartment them into my life. I don't do that any more here and it's almost like being 5 years old again where the fact that the other person was also a kid was a good enough reason to jump in and be friends for a while. Kinda liberating to drop my expectations back a notch and be a bit more here and now. Dr Bob would be proud of me. It helps that she was utterly charming and a genuine pleasure to talk to.

The return trip was even more efficient. The only tiny delay was waiting a few minutes for the guy at the visa desk to stop watching TV and turn around and open his window.  It was only once we were through immigration and heading for home when things started to show up for the boat racing festival. Oiy had warned me that her village was having a big do. The village is more like a suburb and is the one between the bridge and the centre of Vientiane. There were people everywhere. That night I wandered near the river and it looks like Ekka has descended on the banks of the Mekong. The night market stretches from one end of the city to the other and spills up adjacent streets. I am told that this is only going to get bigger.

I think I know what I will be doing on the public holiday we have coming up next week to celebrate this stuff. It looks like this will be fun.

(Foolish lack of rest over the weekend, though.)

AuthorBruce Hardie